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The Internet

Comcast Tells Government That Its Data Caps Aren't Actually "Data Caps" 310

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the doubleplus-ungood-pirate dept.
mpicpp (3454017) writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica about Comcast's data caps that aren't data caps:Customers must pay more if they exceed limits — but it's not a cap, Comcast says. For the past couple of years, Comcast has been trying to convince journalists and the general public that it doesn't impose any "data caps" on its Internet service. ... That's despite the fact that Comcast in some cities enforces limits on the amount of data customers can use and issues financial penalties for using more than the allotment. Comcast has said this type of billing will probably roll out to its entire national footprint within five years, perhaps alongside a pricier option to buy unlimited data. ... Comcast's then-new approach was touted to "effectively offer unlimited usage of our services because customers will have the ability to buy as much data as they want."
Education

Free Law Casebook Project Starts With IP Coursebook 22

Posted by timothy
from the good-way-to-start dept.
An anonymous reader writes Duke Law School's James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins just published a CC licensed, freely downloadable textbook called "Intellectual Property Law and the Information Society." (Which includes a discussion of whether and when the term "intellectual property" is a dangerous misnomer). The book is apparently part of an attempt to lower what the authors describe as the "obscene cost" of legal textbooks. "This is the first in a series of free digital/low cost print legal educational materials to be published by Duke's Center for the Study of the Public Domain—starting with statutory supplements aimed at the basic classes. The goal of this project... is to improve the pricing and access norms of the world of legal textbook publishing, while offering the flexibility and possibility for customization that unfettered digital access provides. We hope it will provide a pleasant, restorative, competitive pressure on the commercial publishers to lower their prices and improve their digital access norms." The book's "problems range from a video of the Napster oral argument to counseling clients about search engines and trademarks, applying the First Amendment to digital rights management and copyright or commenting on the Supreme Court's new rulings on gene patents.. [The book] includes discussions of such issues as the Redskins trademark cancelations, the Google Books case and the America Invents Act."
Businesses

Systems That Can Secretly Track Where Cellphone Users Go Around the Globe 74

Posted by samzenpus
from the oh-watching-the-places-you'll-go dept.
cold fjord writes with this story about the proliferation of companies willing to sell tracking information and systems. Makers of surveillance systems are offering governments across the world the ability to track the movements of almost anybody who carries a cellphone, whether they are blocks away or on another continent. The technology works by exploiting an essential fact of all cellular networks: They must keep detailed, up-to-the-minute records on the locations of their customers to deliver calls and other services to them. Surveillance systems are secretly collecting these records to map people's travels over days, weeks or longer ... It is unclear which governments have acquired these tracking systems, but one industry official ... said that dozens of countries have bought or leased such technology in recent years. This rapid spread underscores how the burgeoning, multibillion-dollar surveillance industry makes advanced spying technology available worldwide. "Any tin-pot dictator with enough money to buy the system could spy on people anywhere in the world," said Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International.
Power

Princeton Nuclear Fusion Reactor Will Run Again 147

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-to-life dept.
mdsolar writes with good news for the National Spherical Torus Experiment. Tucked away from major roadways and nestled amid more than 80 acres of forest sits a massive warehouse-like building where inside, a device that can produce temperatures hotter than the sun has sat cold and quiet for more than two years. But the wait is almost over for the nuclear fusion reactor to get back up and running at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. "We're very excited and we're all anxious to turn that machine back on," said Adam Cohen, deputy director for operations at PPPL. The National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) has been shut down since 2012 as it underwent a $94 million upgrade that will make it what officials say will be the most powerful fusion facility of its kind in the world. It is expected to be ready for operations in late winter or early spring, Cohen said.
The Media

News Corp Australia Doesn't Want You To Look Closely At Their Financials 131

Posted by timothy
from the but-they're-australian-dollars dept.
Presto Vivace writes with news of an embarrassing discovery for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp about the company's financial state, which might draw less attention if News Corp hadn't tried to prevent people from using the information: "The existential crisis that has gripped Rupert Murdoch's Australian arm began with a rude discovery just after 2pm on Wednesday afternoon. The Crikey news website had stumbled across some of News Corp's most intimate lingerie, and had just put it all up on the the net. ... The 276-page document is called the Blue Book, a weekly and year-to-date rundown of results at June 30, 2013 for every News Corp business in the country. ... The great newspaper engine which was Rupert Murdoch's original springboard to take over the world was already under stress. In 2013, 70 per cent of its earnings disappeared, leaving operating income precariously balanced at $87.6 million. As Crikey pointed out, trying hard not to gloat, another year even half as bad as 2013 could put News Australia into the red." Crikey took the documents off line after legal threats, but it seems not before business reporters all over the world had a chance to download them."
Crime

Ross Ulbricht Faces New Drug Charges 102

Posted by timothy
from the there's-laws-and-there's-laws dept.
Alleged Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht now faces additional drug-related charges. Ars Technica gives a run-down on the run-down, and shows an array of driver's licenses that can't look good to a jury: According to a 17-page amended indictment filed late Thursday night, the government introduced one count of “narcotics trafficking,” of “distribution of narcotics by means of the Internet,” and of "conspiracy to traffic in fraudulent identification documents." Previously, Ulbricht was indicted in February 2014 on four formal criminal offenses: narcotics trafficking conspiracy, continuing criminal enterprise, computer hacking conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy. Ulbricht pleaded not guilty to the previous charges, and he seems likely to plead not guilty to the new ones as well.
Businesses

Major Delays, Revamped Beta For Credit-Card Consolidating Gadget Coin 78

Posted by timothy
from the nickelback-quarterback-pedalback dept.
The premise behind Coin is attractive: consolidate credit cards onto a single card-sized gadget. However, on Friday the company announced a delay in the release of its final version from this summer to spring of 2015, and in a way that angered many of the project's crowd-funding backers. The announcement of a delay was not only sudden, and quite close to the previously announced shipping date, but upset those who'd pre-ordered by outlining a confusing beta program that would involve an interim product release — recipients of the beta version (limited to 10,000) would have had to then pay $30 to upgrade to the final product. As CNET reports, the delay until 2015 remains, but with regard to that beta program, Coin has now reversed its stance. The beta program will be free -- meaning preorder customers who opt-in will no longer forfeit the $55 they paid and will still receive the finished Coin product next year. The program will also expand from 10,000 customers to 15,000. Regardless of whether your smartphone is running Apple's iOS or Google's Android operating system, preorder customers can opt-in to Coin's beta program through its app and will be eligible for a device if they fall within the 15,000-person threshold. The order is determined by when you bought your Coin. Coin customers, some who placed orders as far back as November 2013 when the startup first opened its website for preorders, were displeased not so much with the product delay as with the way Coin handled the situation. The company had, as recently as August 14, sent out an update explaining that a long-awaited shipping announcement would arrive at month's end --yet without an indication that it may miss its shipping target.
Transportation

Air Force Requests Info For Replacement Atlas 5 Engine 105

Posted by timothy
from the send-picture-of-rocket dept.
schwit1 (797399) writes The U.S. Air Force on Thursday issued a request for information from industry for the replacement of the Russian-made engines used by ULA's Atlas 5 rocket: "Companies are being asked to respond by Sept. 19 to 35 questions. Among them: "What solution would you recommend to replace the capability currently provided by the RD-180 engine?" Air Force officials have told Congress they only have a broad idea of how to replace the RD-180. Estimates of the investment in money and time necessary to field an American-built alternative vary widely. Congress, meanwhile, is preparing bills that would fund a full-scale engine development program starting next year; the White House is advocating a more deliberate approach that begins with an examination of applicable technologies. In the request for information, the Air Force says it is open to a variety of options including an RD-180 facsimile, a new design, and alternative configurations featuring multiple engines, and even a brand new rocket. The Air Force is also trying to decide on the best acquisition approach. Options include a traditional acquisition or a shared investment as part of a public-private partnership. [emphasis mine]"

The Atlas 5 is built by Lockheed Martin. This is really their problem, not the Air Force or ULA. In addition, the Air Force has other options, both from Boeing's Delta rocket family as well as SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.
Facebook

Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium 193

Posted by timothy
from the what-do-you-trust-with-your-selfies dept.
s122604 links to CNN's explanation of what may be the future of cold (or at least lukewarm) storage at Facebook, which is experimenting with massive arrays of Blu-Ray discs for seldom-accessed user files. Says the report: The discs are held in groups of 12 in locked cartridges and are extracted by a robotic arm whenever they're needed. One rack contains 10,000 discs, and is capable of storing a petabyte of data, or one million gigabytes. Blu-ray discs offer a number of advantages versus hard drives. For one thing, the discs are more resilient: they're water- and dust-resistant, and better able to withstand temperature swings. Their data can be restored more quickly, and they're easier to transport. Most important, though, is cost. Because the Blu-ray system doesn't need to be powered when the discs aren't in use, it uses 80% less power than the hard-drive arrangement, cutting overall costs in half.
Microsoft

For Microsoft, $93B Abroad Means Avoiding $30B Tax Hit 316

Posted by timothy
from the what's-billed-vs-what's-owed dept.
walterbyrd (182728) writes "Microsoft Corp. is currently sitting on almost $29.6 billion it would owe in U.S. taxes if it repatriated the $92.9 billion of earnings it is keeping offshore, according to disclosures in the company's most recent annual filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The amount of money that Microsoft is keeping offshore represents a significant spike from prior years, and the levies the company would owe amount to almost the entire two-year operating budget of the company's home state of Washington."
Oracle

Oregon Sues Oracle For "Abysmal" Healthcare Website 210

Posted by timothy
from the finest-consultants-in-the-land dept.
SpzToid (869795) writes The state of Oregon sued Oracle America Inc. and six of its top executives Friday, accusing the software giant of fraud for failing to deliver a working website for the Affordable Care Act program. The 126-page lawsuit claims Oracle has committed fraud, lies, and "a pattern of activity that has cost the State and Cover Oregon hundreds of millions of dollars". "Not only were Oracle's claims lies, Oracle's work was abysmal", the lawsuit said. Oregon paid Oracle about $240.3 million for a system that never worked, the suit said. "Today's lawsuit clearly explains how egregiously Oracle has disserved Oregonians and our state agencies", said Oregon Atty. Gen. Ellen Rosenblum in a written statement. "Over the course of our investigation, it became abundantly clear that Oracle repeatedly lied and defrauded the state. Through this legal action, we intend to make our state whole and make sure taxpayers aren't left holding the bag."

Oregon's suit alleges that Oracle, the largest tech contractor working on the website, falsely convinced officials to buy "hundreds of millions of dollars of Oracle products and services that failed to perform as promised." It is seeking $200 million in damages. Oracle issued a statement saying the suit "is a desperate attempt to deflect blame from Cover Oregon and the governor for their failures to manage a complex IT project. The complaint is a fictional account of the Oregon Healthcare Project."
Microsoft

Microsoft Lobby Denies the State of Chile Access To Free Software 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the lockin-leverage-legislate dept.
walterbyrd writes: Fresh on the heels of the entire Munich and Linux debacle, another story involving Microsoft and free software has popped up across the world, in Chile. A prolific magazine from the South American country says that the powerful Microsoft lobby managed to turn around a law that would allow the authorities to use free software. "An independent member of the Chilean Parliament, Vlado Mirosevic, pushed a bill that would allow the state to consider free software when the authorities needed to purchase or renew licenses. ... A while later, the same member of the Parliament, Daniel Farcas, proposed another bill that actually nullified the effects of the previous one that had just been adopted. To make things even more interesting, some of the people who voted in favor of the first law also voted in favor of the second one. ... The new bill is even more egregious, because it aggressively pushes for the adoption of proprietary software. Companies that choose to use proprietary software will receive certain tax breaks, which makes it very hard for free software to get adopted."
Books

Book Review: Social Engineering In IT Security Tools, Tactics, and Techniques 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes When I got a copy of Social Engineering in IT Security Tools, Tactics, and Techniques by Sharon Conheady, my first thought was that it likely could not have much that Christopher Hadnagy didn't already detail in the definitive text on the topic: Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking. Obviously Hadnagy thought differently, as he wrote the forward to the book; which he found to be a valuable resource. While there is overlap between the two books; Hadnagy's book takes a somewhat more aggressive tool-based approach, while Conheady take a somewhat more passive, purely social approach to the topic. There are many more software tools in Hadnagy; while Conheady doesn't reference software tools until nearly half-way through the book. This book provides an extensive introduction to the topic and details how social engineering has evolved through the centuries. Conheady writes how the overall tactics and goals have stayed the same; while the tools and techniques have been modified to suit the times. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
The Almighty Buck

How Game Developers Turn Kickstarter Failure Into Success 30

Posted by Soulskill
from the pay-me-to-overpromise dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes When you ask random strangers on the Internet to give you money, there are no guarantees. That's true in almost any scenario, including when video game developers use Kickstarter to crowdfund the creation of a game. While 3,900 or so games have been funded on Kickstarter, more than 7,200 game projects failed to hit their goal. Within those two numbers are some people who fall into both categories: developers who failed to get funding on their first try, but re-launched campaigns and hit their goals. Jon Brodkin spoke with a handful of those indie game developers who succeeded on their second try; many of them used the momentum (and fans) from the first attempt to get a head start on funding the second, and one even adjusted his entire plan based on community feedback. But succeeding the second time also depended on quite a bit of luck.
Advertising

Study: Ad-Free Internet Would Cost Everyone $230-a-Year 609

Posted by Soulskill
from the monopoly-money dept.
Several readers sent word of research into the cost of internet content without ads. They looked at the amount of money spent on internet advertising last year in the U.K., and compared it to the number of U.K. internet users. On average, each user would have to pay about £140 ($230) to make up for the lost revenue of an ad-free internet. In a survey, 98% of consumers said they wouldn't be willing to pay that much for the ability to browse without advertisements. However, while most consumers regard ads as a necessary trade-off to keep the internet free, they will go to great lengths to avoid advertising they do not wish to see. Of those surveyed, 63 per cent said they skip online video ads 'as quickly as possible' – a figure that rises to 75 per cent for 16-24 year olds. Over a quarter of all respondents said they mute their sound and one in five scroll away from the video. 16 per cent use ad blocking software and 16 per cent open a new browser window or tab.
Communications

Calif. Court Rules Businesses Must Reimburse Cell Phone Bills 159

Posted by timothy
from the ok-but-stop-calling-her-from-work dept.
New submitter dszd0g writes The Court of Appeal of the State of California has ruled in Cochran v. Schwan's Home Service that California businesses must reimburse employees who BYOD for work. "We hold that when employees must use their personal cell phones for work-related calls, Labor Code section 2802 requires the employer to reimburse them. Whether the employees have cell phone plans with unlimited minutes or limited minutes, the reimbursement owed is a reasonable percentage of their cell phone bills." Forbes recommends businesses that require cell phone use for employees either provide cell phones to employees or establish forms for reimbursement, and that businesses that do not require cell phones establish a formal policy.
The Almighty Buck

National Science Foundation Awards $20 Million For Cloud Computing Experiments 25

Posted by samzenpus
from the paying-the-way-to-the-future dept.
aarondubrow writes The National Science Foundation today announced two $10 million projects to create cloud computing testbeds — to be called "Chameleon" and "CloudLab" — that will enable the academic research community to experiment with novel cloud architectures and pursue new, architecturally-enabled applications of cloud computing. While most of the original concepts for cloud computing came from the academic research community, as clouds grew in popularity, industry drove much of the design of their architecture. Today's awards complement industry's efforts and enable academic researchers to advance cloud computing architectures that can support a new generation of innovative applications, including real-time and safety-critical applications like those used in medical devices, power grids, and transportation systems.
Patents

How Patent Trolls Destroy Innovation 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-had-an-idea-therefore-your-effort-is-mine dept.
walterbyrd sends this story from Vox: Everyone agrees that there's been an explosion of patent litigation in recent years, and that lawsuits from non-practicing entities (NPEs) — known to critics as patent trolls — are a major factor. But there's a big debate about whether trolls are creating a drag on innovation — and if so, how big the problem is. A new study (PDF) by researchers at Harvard and the University of Texas provides some insight on this question. Drawing from data on litigation, R&D spending, and patent citations, the researchers find that firms that are forced to pay NPEs (either because they lost a lawsuit or settled out of court) dramatically reduce R&D spending: losing firms spent $211 million less on R&D, on average, than firms that won a lawsuit against a troll. "After losing to NPEs, firms significantly reduce R&D spending — both projects inside the firm and acquiring innovative R&D outside the firm," the authors write. "Our evidence suggests that it really is the NPE litigation event that causes this decrease in innovation."
Businesses

Comcast Training Materials Leaked 249

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-to-be-a-jerk-in-3-easy-steps dept.
WheezyJoe writes: The Verge reports on leaked training manuals from Comcast, which show how selling services is a required part of the job, even for employees doing tech support. The so-called "4S training material" explicitly states that 20 percent of a call center employee's rating for a given call is dependent on effectively selling the customer new Comcast services. "There are pages of materials on 'probing' customers to ferret out upsell opportunities, as well as on batting aside customer objections to being told they need to buy something. 'We can certainly look at other options, but you would lose which you mentioned was important to you,' the guide suggests clumsily saying to an angry customer who doesn't want to buy any more Comcast services." Images of the leaked documents are available on the Verge, making for fun reading.

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